I know it doesn't seem fair. Have millennials not been through enough already? We've lived through a financial crisis, have mountains of student debt, been told by boomers that we're spoiled little brats and for what — to have Gen Z shit on us, too?
A new trend has emerged on TikTok of Gen Z viciously mocking millennials, and in all honesty it's spot on. It also hints at what exactly defines the difference between the politics of millennials and the next generation.
Making fun of millennials is pretty easy once you know the basic buttons to push. From what I've seen on TikTok, it comes down to this: Millennials are earnest, obsessive, and love a good label.
We all seem to know and care about what our Harry Potter house is (I'm a Slytherin because I'm edgy), we love coffee and wine ("don't talk to me before my morning coffee!"), we say things like "adulting" without irony, we think wearing a "Nasty Woman" T-shirt is radical politics, and we know the words to at least one Hamilton song. Our Twitter bios list at least three identifying words (uh, guilty) and we've used the phrases "’90s baby" without the shame it deserves.
Yes, these are stereotypes and, notably, very white stereotypes. But they've still managed to get under some people's skin.
Some TikTok comments were collected on Twitter and people seemed rather surprised that Gen Z thinks we're pretty dull.
It's starting to cut pretty deep.
Those comments came from this TikTok.
That TikTok, made by Maya Lepa, was inspired by her friend Sammy Tully, a 19-year-old in Los Angeles, who made this.
If it hurts it's because it's all sort of true. Especially the mustache thing. How was that ever a thing?
The comments are pretty vicious, too.
The more you watch and read, the more you realize there's a very good case for millennials being cringey. After all, we're the generation that tried to attend Fyre Fest and made novelty Twitter accounts a thing.
Tully told me the idea just popped into his head one day that millennials were a prime target for mockery with our strange 2000s-era habits, like calling our pets "doggos."
"I don’t think it’s a revenge thing, but a time to stand up. I think a lot of Gen Z kids feel like they’ve been mocked by millennials for doing weird stuff or not being up to their standards," he told me.
He also made a video captioned "POV: im your awkward buzzfeed co-worker."
If I'm mad it's only because I've definitely had conversations like this before, so how dare he. But it turns out loving BuzzFeed is yet another hallmark of millennialhood.
"I think Gen Z kids just like to make fun of millennials because they all just seem unanimously obsessed with BuzzFeed. It’s just a stereotype," he said (although he said he likes BuzzFeed, too).
It's that obsession bit that really gets at where the tension lies. Gen Z sees millennials as a generation too willing to define ourselves by our interests and identities. That comes through in a loyalty to brands, or ’90s nostalgia, or political figures, rather than movements, philosophies, or ideals.
"When I think of millennials I think of a Twitter account with a bunch of labels in the bio," said Serena Shahidi, a 20-year-old TikTok star. "Gen Z kind of understands that no one cares."
Shahidi made her own "millennial bullying" contribution that has also been making the rounds on Twitter.
She explained that while millennials enjoy blaming aspects of a broken system for the world's woes — Republicans, Trump, economic downturns — Gen Z is ready to just tear that system down. And, unlike millennials who had our dreams taken away, Gen Z just didn't have dreams to start with.
"Gen Z was never really exposed to the same American dream that millennials were exposed to," she said. "It’s more a stoic acceptance of the state of the world."
That tendency for nihilism may also explain Gen Z's love of "ironic" humor, as they call it. It's hard to tell when Gen Z is being serious or not, and they like it that way. By contrast, millennials are seen as being too earnest.
"Gen Z is kind of more radical than anyone else, but we rarely talk about anything 100% seriously," she said.
"I think just because we grew up without the serious dreams that millennials had, and that we kind of grew up with this lack of hope, that we’ve learned to accept and make a joke out of it."
She added that Gen Z and millennials are coping with the same shitty world, it's just that they're making fun of millennials' particular coping mechanisms. And unless millennials want to be the next humorless generations of Karens, we should probably get over it and laugh along.
And, in the end, the joke is on me anyway.
"It is a little bit perfect that you’re a millennial writing a serious piece about a joke," Shahidi told me.